Even if one disagrees with some of Israel’s policies, Israel has every right to promote its legitimate accomplishments on LGBT rights, including annual pride parades, anti-discrimination laws, adoption rights and, most recently, Tel Aviv being ranked the “best gay city” in the world. Israel deserves and should be entitled to claim credit for a gay rights record that far surpasses most other countries in the world.
Allegations of so-called Israeli pinkwashing have become more prominent in the past several years and gained mainstream attention a few months ago when The New York Times published an op-ed on the subject by CUNY professor Sarah Schulman. She argued that Israel’s acceptance of gays into the military is an “incomplete indicator of human rights” and shouldn’t “blind us” to the Palestinians’ issues.
This is a classic straw man argument: No one was asserting that Israel’s record on LGBT issues was the final say on its human rights record.
The pinkwashing allegation uncovers something deeply nefarious about the anti-Israel movement: Opposition to Israel is rarely limited to criticism of Israel as it relates to the conflict. Instead, it often becomes an all-out attempt to slander every facet of Israel’s existence and to claim that Israel’s real and laudable achievements are just an attempt to “cover up” the darker truth. Israel’s swift responses to the recent humanitarian crises in Turkey and Haiti were similarly dismissed by anti-Israel activists as an opportunity exploited by Israel to whitewash its record.